Deputy President William Ruto has asked leaders to stop interfering with the work of independent institutions

Dr Ruto took issue with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga for what he termed as unwarranted attacks on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) over the referendum budget.

He said it was wrong for some leaders to meddle with the work of independent bodies, noting that such a move would undermine their credibility.

Speaking in Kangema and Mathioya towns in Muranga County on Friday, during a boda boda and women empowerment programmes respectively, the Deputy President said independent institutions should be given ample time to discharge their duties.

“I want to ask my fellow leaders to stop interfering with the work of independent institutions with the aim of bringing down such bodies and cause chaos and anarchy in the country,” said Dr Ruto.

He said professionals conversant with their responsibilities were managing the affairs of independent institutions, adding that they should be left alone to perform their duties.

The Deputy President dismissed claims by Mr Odinga that the impending referendum would only cost Sh 2billion, noting that the country used Sh 10 billion during the 2010 referendum.

“How can someone tell us that a referendum of 20 million Kenyans will cost Sh 2 Billion when a referendum of 12 million Kenyans cost the country Sh 10 billion,” posed the Deputy President.

He said Kenyans were not bothered on who would be the chairperson of IEBC because it is their decisions, which matter, when it comes to elections.

“It doesn’t matter who chairs the IEBC. In any case it’s Kenyans who elect leaders. Let’s have a transparent and coherent process,” said Dr Ruto.

Present were MPs Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), GK Kariuki (Ndia), Silvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), Faith Gitau (Nyandarua), Purity Ngirici (Kirinyaga), Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), Jane Kihara (Naivasha), Florence Chematia (EALA) and James Gakuya (Embakasi North)

At the same time, Dr Ruto, said the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) should be geared towards uniting Kenyans and not dividing them.

Dr Ruto said most of the recommendations on the BBI report could be implemented, if a consensus was reached at without subjecting Kenyans to a referendum.

“It is possible to reach at a consensus on the BBI report and use the Sh14 billion to address the problems facing Kenyans especially during this difficult period of Covid -19,” said Dr Ruto.

He added: “We don’t want BBI to divide Kenyans. Let’s work on a national consensus to avoid a losers and winners scenario. Let’s not push the country to unnecessarily to a divisive engagement.”

The Deputy President said there was no need for some leaders to push for a Yes/No referendum, saying such a move would polarize the country.

The MPs on their part claimed that some leaders were insisting on a contested referendum to test their popularity ahead of 2022 general elections besides benefitting from the funds to be used.

They said the more than Sh 14 billion to be used on the referendum should be diverted for development projects aimed at uplifting the lives of Kenyans.

The legislators said Parliament was ready to pass BBI recommendations if the country reaches at a consensus to save Sh 14 billion for development.

“I urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to refuse to allow those who want to use BBI as a contest in readiness for 2022 general election,” said Mrs Wahome.

Mr Kuria said the solution for post election disputes was not amending the Constitution but for leaders to accept election results.

Mr Osoro said it was unfair to subject Kenyans to a referendum in 2021 yet there would be a general election in 2022.

He wondered why only MPs supporting BBI have been invited to discuss the BBI report in Naivasha, leaving out those raising important issues to be included in the report.

“They have invited MPs who are in support of the BBI report the way it is. Those who want issues affecting ordinary Kenyans included in the report have not been invited,” said Mr Osoro.

Mr Rigathi and Mr Nyoro said the Sh 14 billion should be used to help milk; tea and coffee farmers improve on their production instead of using for a referendum.

“ODM leadership is interested in seats through the BBI. But we are interested in matters affecting ordinary Kenyans. That’s why we want a consensus to avoid use of money that can be used to help farmers,” said Mr Gachagua.

Mr Ichungwa said they would heed by President Kenyatta’s call on Kenyans to have robust conversations with the aim of reaching at a consensus.

“Kenyans should be allowed to give their views so that issues affecting different regions are included in the report. Ordinary people are ready to support BBI on condition that their concerns are considered in the report,” said Mr Ichungwa.

On the other hand, Mr Gachagua and Mrs Wahome said Mt Kenya has rejected plans by Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe to woo them to support a certain candidate in 2022 to achieve his selfish ends.

“Now that youths have been enlightened and economically empowered, they have rejected Murathe’s plans. He is now falsely claiming that they have been radicalized,” said Mr Gachagua.